Hello, dear readers! I’m currently in India collecting recipes for my new cookbook. One of the trip highlights has been the Jaipur Cooking class which is taught by chef Lokesh.
Before arriving in Jaipur, the chef asked me to select a menu for the class. One of the dishes which had been proving troublesome for me in Australia was making a delicious, authentic Malai Kofta. Since arriving in India I’ve been eating Malai Kofta at every restaurant and from every street corner in an attempt to identify the flavours.
Naturally I took the opportunity to choose Malai Kofta as one of the meals for the days menu. Selecting the remaining dishes was more difficult as everything sounded delicious. We’re travelling with the children on this trip, so I needed to ensure the dishes were suitable for them too.
I chose a vegetarian menu for our Jaipur Cooking Class. We’ve been enjoying so many vegetarian meals whilst in Indian I thought it would be nice to continue eating fresh, healthy meals.
Jaipur Cooking Class Menu
- Masala Chai
- Coriander Chutney
- Paneer Tikka
- Malai Kofta
- Vegetable Biryani
- Galab Jamun
The lesson started with learning to make Masala Chai. I’ve become an absolute convert to this tea. Although I would have never ordered a Chai at home, the authentic version has proved to be a favourite.
The first dish of the day was learning how to make the paneer. Making paneer and ricotta cheese is identical. The difference is in the shaping. If you would like to make your own paneer follow the instructions in this story and simple add a pinch or two of salt. The trick to shaping paneer is the pressing tin. Chef Lokesh showed us the tin and how the curd is scooped into the muslin lined tin, and then weighted to form a perfect cheese round.
With the paneer complete it was time to marinade the cheese and vegetables in a spice mix to give the dish flavour.
The cooking class was a fabulous experience for the whole family. Anais loves cooking and the chef was happy to have the children involved in learning to make the dishes and sampling the food as it was cooking.
Making (and eating naan) was Anais favourite part of the class. She made the bread almost entirely on her own, including shaping the balls and adding the nigella seeds.
I had selected a vegetable biryani as one of the dishes on the menu. Chef Lokesh had a trick up to show me for making an extra special Biryani. Dum Vegetable Biryani is a layered biryani which is sealed with a naan bread before baking. This traditional style of cooking keeps the moisture inside the dish as it finishes cooking.
The flavour of the Biryani was amazing! It always surprises me how such a simple dish can be so good! We were shown how to layer the rice with the vegetables in the dish and then seal the lid with bread.
We moved onto making the Kofta balls for the Malai Kofta. In Jaipur, they make a very different style kofta than what I’m used to seeing. Firstly, the kofta is shaped as an egg instead of the more conventional ball. This had already surprised me in a restaurant we visited.
Also, you may notice the colour of the kofta is a little different. Chef Lokesh adds some mild spices to flavour the kofta before shaping them around a surprise centre of cashews and sultanas.
We were all invited to try the kofta with the green coriander chutney. The kofta was so light and tasty. They were easily the best kofta we’ve eaten so far.
Next we moved onto making the Malai Kofta gravy. As with any dish, when you know the tricks to success it’s becomes easy. The chef instructed me as I made the curry from his recipe. It was a huge feeling of success to have nailed the dish. The flavours were fabulous, and with a little tweaking to adjust the heat to my own preference I knew I had found my recipe.
Making Galab Jamun
The final dish of the day was Galab Jamun. I have only tried Galab Jamun once in Australia and I was not a fan. The version I tasted had used milk powder and was grainy and not at all a pleasant taste. I probably would have avoided making this dessert except that I’d eaten a nicer version on the flight to India, and an even more delicious Galab Jamun served as part of a meal.
Whilst making this amazing dessert I discovered the difference between Australia dessert Galab Jamun and the delicious Indian version. We can’t buy Mawa which is the reduced milk concentrate that forms the basis of the desert. Instead, milk powder is substituted and made into a paste. Milk powder doesn’t even come close to giving the same result.
All I could do is enjoy this dessert whilst in India and plan to return for more!
Jaipur Cooking Class Meal
The Jaipur cooking class was different to our previous class in Delhi. Our previous class feature yummy homestyle cooking whilst in the Jaipur cooking class were learned to make delicious, attractive restaurant style dishes. The classes were both very hands. Chef Lokesh is very used to teaching students of all ages and Anais loved getting involved.
One aspect of the class I particularly liked was how relaxed the chef was with our family. Nothing was too much trouble for him. The children wandered in and out of the class, patting the dog upstairs, chatting to his wife and watching television. Lachlan was only interested in watching and talking cricket with the hosts.
At the end of the class, the family enjoyed a super relaxed meal in the dining room with the chef and his wife. Once the meal was complete we needed to say our goodbyes. Our next stop was to be Agra, 5 hours away and we had organised a driver to take us.
Chef Lokesh packed our leftover dishes into takeaway containers so we had food for the trip. I’m so grateful they did as we didn’t arrive at our destination until about 10 pm that night. We were so tired, it was a blessing that we didn’t need to worry about dinner.
If you’re not visiting Jaipur, but would still like to take a cooking class I would also recommend Gourmet Desire in Delhi. We participated in the Gourmet Desire cooking class at the beginning of our trip to India.